Houston completes the comeback

Astros secure series against Mariners with walk-off win in extras

Astros' Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa
Alex Bregman forced extras with a homer, and Carlos Correa delivered the walk-off hit against the Mariners on Tuesday. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Alex Bregman forced extras with a homer, and Carlos Correa delivered the walk-off hit against the Mariners on Tuesday.

After a lopsided win to start the series, the Astros had the chance to lock up another series win if they could get a victory against Seattle on Tuesday. Though it looked bleak late, they would force extras and ultimately get the walk-off win.

Final Score (10 innings): Astros 5, Mariners 4

Astros' Record: 81-57, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (2-4)

Losing Pitcher: Yohan Ramirez (1-3)

Houston grabs a lead, Odorizzi gives it up

After getting just one baserunner in the first two innings against Logan Gilbert, the Astros put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the third. Jose Altuve started it with a solo homer to start the scoring, then a Michael Brantley single in the next at-bat set up an RBI double by Alex Bregman, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Jake Odorizzi held that lead well through the first four innings, allowing just two singles over that span, holding the Mariners scoreless. That changed in the top of the fifth, where he would watch the two-run lead evaporate after a leadoff single followed by a double set up a two-out two-RBI double to tie things up. He finished the inning but would go no further. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 66 P.

Seattle goes in front

First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the top of the sixth, and he would watch Kyle Seager launch a go-ahead solo homer to start the frame. Garcia finished the sixth, then Phil Maton took over in the top of the seventh. With a timely double play behind him, he erased a one-out walk to face the minimum and keep it a one-run game.

After stranding a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh, Houston moved on to Kendall Graveman to face his former team in the top of the eighth. He disposed of them in order, getting a 1-2-3 inning to give his offense another crack at tying or going in front. They would go down scoreless in the bottom of the eighth, resulting in Ryan Pressly coming in to try and give them a last chance in the bottom of the ninth.

Bregman ties it to force extras, Correa walks it off as Astros secure series win

Pressly would instead allow Seattle to add to their lead, giving up a one-out double and then an RBI single to make it a 4-2 game before he finished the inning. Houston went to work in the bottom of the ninth, getting a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve to bring the tying run to the plate. After Michael Brantley nearly tied it, missing a homer by mere feet, Alex Bregman would get the job done in the next at-bat, a two-run blast to make it 4-4.

They wouldn't get the walk-off win then, though, as the game headed to extras. Ryne Stanek took on the task of eliminating the free runner in the top of the tenth and did it with some solid defense behind him to give the Astros another chance. Yuli Gurriel started the bottom of the tenth on second base and scored immediately as Carlos Correa would lead off the inning with the game-winner, an RBI ground-rule double to walk it off and give the Astros the series win.

Up Next: This series's third and final game and the last time these teams will face each other in the regular season will get underway at 1:10 PM Central on Wednesday. Tyler Anderson (1-1, 3.38 ERA) is slated to be on the mound for Seattle, while Jose Urquidy (6-3, 3.42 ERA) will have the ball for Houston.

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The Astros have their work cut out for them. Composite Getty Image.

Through 20 games, the Houston Astros have managed just six wins and are in last place in the AL West.

Their pitching staff trails only Colorado with a 5.24 ERA and big-money new closer Josh Hader has given up the same number of earned runs in 10 games as he did in 61 last year.

Despite this, these veteran Astros, who have reached the AL Championship Series seven consecutive times, have no doubt they’ll turn things around.

“If there’s a team that can do it, it’s this team,” shortstop Jeremy Peña said.

First-year manager Joe Espada, who was hired in January to replace the retired Dusty Baker, discussed his team’s early struggles.

“It’s not ideal,” he said. “It’s not what we expected, to come out of the shoot playing this type of baseball. But you know what, this is where we’re at and we’ve got to pick it up and play better. That’s just the bottom line.”

Many of Houston’s problems have stemmed from a poor performance by a rotation that has been decimated by injuries. Ace Justin Verlander and fellow starter José Urquidy haven’t pitched this season because of injuries and lefty Framber Valdez made just two starts before landing on the injured list with a sore elbow.

Ronel Blanco, who threw a no-hitter in his season debut April 1, has pitched well and is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three starts this season. Cristian Javier is also off to a good start, going 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in four starts, but the team has won just two games not started by those two pitchers.

However, Espada wouldn’t blame the rotation for Houston’s current position.

“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster how we've played overall,” he said. “One day we get good starting pitching, some days we don’t. The middle relief has been better and sometimes it hasn’t been. So, we’ve just got to put it all together and then play more as a team. And once we start doing that, we’ll be in good shape.”

The good news for the Astros is that Verlander will make his season debut Friday night when they open a series at Washington and Valdez should return soon after him.

“Framber and Justin have been a great part of our success in the last few years,” second baseman Jose Altuve said. “So, it’s always good to have those two guys back helping the team. We trust them and I think it’s going to be good.”

Hader signed a five-year, $95 million contract this offseason to give the Astros a shutdown 7-8-9 combination at the back end of their bullpen with Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly. But the five-time All-Star is off to a bumpy start.

He allowed four runs in the ninth inning of a 6-1 loss to the Braves on Monday night and has yielded eight earned runs this season after giving up the same number in 56 1/3 innings for San Diego last year.

He was much better Wednesday when he struck out the side in the ninth before the Astros fell to Atlanta in 10 innings for their third straight loss.

Houston’s offense, led by Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, ranks third in the majors with a .268 batting average and is tied for third with 24 homers this season. But the Astros have struggled with runners in scoring position and often failed to get a big hit in close games.

While many of Houston’s hitters have thrived this season, one notable exception is first baseman José Abreu. The 37-year-old, who is in the second year of a three-year, $58.5 million contract, is hitting 0.78 with just one extra-base hit in 16 games, raising questions about why he remains in the lineup every day.

To make matters worse, his error on a routine ground ball in the eighth inning Wednesday helped the Braves tie the game before they won in extra innings.

Espada brushed off criticism of Abreu and said he knows the 2020 AL MVP can break out of his early slump.

“Because (of) history,” Espada said. “The back of his baseball card. He can do it.”

Though things haven’t gone well for the Astros so far, everyone insists there’s no panic in this team which won its second World Series in 2022.

Altuve added that he doesn’t have to say anything to his teammates during this tough time.

“I think they’ve played enough baseball to know how to control themselves and how to come back to the plan we have, which is winning games,” he said.

The clubhouse was quiet and somber Wednesday after the Astros suffered their third series sweep of the season and second at home. While not panicking about the slow start, this team, which has won at least 90 games in each of the last three seasons, is certainly not happy with its record.

“We need to do everything better,” third baseman Alex Bregman said. “I feel like we’re in a lot of games, but we just haven’t found a way to win them. And good teams find a way to win games. So we need to find a way to win games.”

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